Date: 20 March 2021
Tournament: Dubai Tennis Championships 2021
Venue: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Category: ATP 500
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $1,897,805
Match timing: Not before 7 pm local time, 8.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Lloyd Harris vs Aslan Karatsev preview
In a rarity at the ATP 500 level, we have two unseeded finalists from a 64-player bracket. Exactly six years after World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 2 Roger Federer fought it out in a blockbuster final showdown at Dubai, it is qualifier Lloyd Harris and wildcard Aslan Karatsev who are now set to do the honors.
While the match may not appear too prolific on paper, the two of them combined have taken down as many favorites as you could ever see heading into a tournament final. Let's take a look at their respective runs:
Lloyd Harris (Rank 83, Elo 1728)
- Round 1: Christopher O' Connell (Rank 122, Elo 1599)
- Round 2: (1) Dominic Thiem (Rank 4, Elo 2006)
- Round of 16: (14) Filip Krajinovic (Rank 3, Elo 1834)
- Quarterfinals: Kei Nishikori (Rank 41, Elo 1820)
- Semifinals: (3) Denis Shapovalov (Rank 12, Elo 1935)
Aslan Karatsev (Rank 42, Elo 1760)
- Round 1: Egor Gerasimov (Rank 77, Elo 1743)
- Round 2: (12) Daniel Evans (Rank 28, Elo 1838)
- Round of 16: (17) Lorenzo Sonego (Rank 37, Elo 1701)
- Quarterfinals: (16) Jannik Sinner (Rank 32, Elo 1874)
- Semifinals: (2) Andrey Rublev (Rank 8, Elo 2117)
As you can see, both players constantly punched above their weight. While Harris took out top-seeded Dominic Thiem in the latter's first match here, Karatsev took down the pre-tournament favorite Andrey Rublev in their latest match at Dubai, snapping the latter's 23-match win streak at the ATP 500 level.
Their respective semifinals, however, were won in contrasting fashion. While Harris weathered a storm from Denis Shapovalov and put just enough balls in play for the Canadian to misfire, Karatsev simply stole the racket from Andrey Rublev's hands.
Midway through the second set in the first semifinal, Harris was trailing by a set and a break, with Shapovalov winning around 72% of his service points and Harris around 66% of his. The Canadian hadn't even faced a break point until that point.
But then, the match turned on its head. From 2-4 down, Harris reeled off five games in succession to arrive at 1-0 in the decider, serving first.
They played out the third set on serve. But when Harris won the tiebreak that followed, on his second match point, their aforementioned percentage of service points won had been reversed.
In the second semifinal, Karatsev blazed winners past Rublev from both wings right from the onset. Up a set and 3-3 in the second, Karatsev had four break points to all but seal the deal. But Rublev hung tough, Karatsev succumbed to the pressure, and the match reached a deciding set.
It was then like an action replay of the first, with Karatsev crushing winners left, right and center to go up a double break. He faltered in his first attempt to close out the match, but got the job done in the second.
Perhaps the most impressive stat from his match was that he 'out-winnered' Rublev 41-21 in total and 32-7 off the ground.
Lloyd Harris vs Aslan Karatsev head-to-head
With Aslan Karatsev having broken through from the Challenger circuit only recently, he is yet to face most players on the main tour. Lloyd Harris being one such player, their head-to-head record currently stands at 0-0.
Lloyd Harris vs Aslan Karatsev prediction
Let's take a look at their respective Elo ratings.
- Lloyd Harris entered the tournament with an Elo rating of 1728. His tournament Elo currently stands at 1915. Thus, his adjusted Elo stands at 1822.
- Aslan Karatsev entered the tournament with an Elo rating of 1760. His tournament Elo currently stands at 1938. Thus, his adjusted Elo stands at 1849.
At their adjusted Elo ratings, Karatsev emerges as a 53.88% favorite to win the match.
But let's also look into their precentage of serve-return points won in this tournament.
- Lloyd Harris has won an average of 73% service points and 35% return points from his five matches.
- Aslan Karatsev has won an average of 66% service points and 41% return points from his five matches.
Taking into account the serve and return prowess of both players, they are both expected to win around 66% points on serve, which would mean a lot of games beind closed out at 30. And the sets are most likely to have 6-4, 6-3 or 7-6 scorelines.
Harris has the experience of playing in a final (Adelaide 2020), while Karatsev has that of a Grand Slam semifinal (Australian Open 2021). And on Saturday, the latter experience might prove to be more telling.
Prediction: Aslan Karatsev to win 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.